What’s the equation for building a timeless knife? Functional, long lasting, comfortable but aesthetically pleasing. These are definitely all factors. But it takes the right ingredients, the right price, and some luck to make it timeless. Buried somewhere deep in the vaults of Kershaw Headquarters they have that secret formula (probably scratched on a napkin or sticky note). In their 42 years, Kershaw has produced their share of “winners” thanks in part to designers like Ken Onion, Rick Hinderer, and Tommie Lucas, and innovations like the Kershaw Sub-frame Lock, the KVT Bearing System, and of course, Speedsafe Assisted Opening. Obviously Kershaw knows what’s up in the knife world. Here is our list of timeless Kershaw knives, and what makes them classics.
We’re kicking this list off with a curve ball. Our first “timeless” Kershaw knife is the Launch 1. The Launch automatic knife series has been a wild success since it’s arrival in early 2015. It is the right balance of made in the USA quality, strong materials, and affordable pricing that will keep this Kershaw knife around for a long time coming. With it’s popularity, Kershaw has released several new color variations along with different blade finishes. We don’t expect this bad boy to lose steam anytime soon.
The Hinderer collaboration on this Kershaw knife, the Cryo, was destined to be a hit. Winning “Best Buy of the Year” at Blade Show 2012, there was no doubt that this assisted knife was going to be an instant classic. Being a Hinderer design, you know this knife was built to be rugged, as well as practical. Rick Hinderer draws from his real world experience as a firefighter and EMT to design his knives to be easily opened with one hand and with gloves on. It also has good heft to it, which makes it easier to control in finer EDC tasks. If you’ve always wanted a Hinderer designed knife at a wallet friendly price, this is the knife for you.
The Ken Onion designed Kershaw Blur is the full sized folder that is great for most any task. Classic handle, classic liner lock, classic deployment method. This assisted knife hits on all of the things that have been proven as a success in the past. But you don’t achieve greatness by rehashing old ideas. With additions like the rubberized grip tape on the handles, angled thumb studs for a more positive purchase, and the Speedsafe deployment method, the Blur is a great example of a simple, timeless Kershaw knife.
When you think of Kershaw, do you think of the Skyline? We sure do. It’s the cult classic that never stops impressing. This is the knife that shows that simplicity can go a long way, when executed correctly. Designed by Tommie Lucas and released in 2008, the no frills flipper is lightweight, easy to use, and beautiful in its simplicity. It is lacking a spring assist or automatic function, has a basic G-10 textured handle (base model), and a classic looking drop point blade. Yet, without all the fancy gadgets, the Skyline is one of the most popular EDC options out there. It just goes to show that you don’t need the newest technology to make something that is near perfection. (kershaw knife)
If we could only choose one knife to be THE timeless Kershaw knife, it would have to be the Leek. Another brilliant Ken Onion design, the Leek assisted knife has found its way into most knife enthusiasts’ pockets, one way or another. Although it was not the first knife to feature Kershaw’s Speedsafe technology, it was most likely the one that made it a success, along with sparking the assisted opening craze in the knife world. It is so compact and lightweight, while still fitting nicely in your hand and being a good blade length for EDC. The Sandvik 14C28N steel is a great middle of the road blade steel that both holds an edge very well, and is easy to resharpen. It can be easily opened and closed with one hand, thanks to the Speedsafe action. It is the perfect storm of size, weight, strength, and intuition. kershaw knife
So what is it that makes a timeless Kershaw knife? Well, the majority of our list is assisted or automatic knives, easy one hand opening seems to be key. Even in the Skyline, the only manual action, the flipper deployment makes opening the knife second nature. 4 out of 5 have high quality blade steel, with the fifth being a budget friendly EDC option. And finally, it doesn’t hurt to have a world class knife designer develop the knife for you. Both Ken Onion and Rick Hinderer showed up on our list, and that is really no surprise. Price is also a huge factor. All of the knives on this list came in at under $100 dollars, which is a huge plus. Tell us what your favorite Kershaw knife is in the comments below. Is there a model you would have put in the top five? Which one? We can’t wait to see what the coming years have in store for the Kershaw brand. If history is any indicator, the future is bright in the Kershaw knife world.